Israel destroys Dutch development project; Netherlands furious
Israel demolished a Dutch development project consisting of 96 solar panels and other equipment for supplying power to Palestinian village Jubbet Adh Dhib on the west bank of the Jordan. The Netherlands spent about half a million euros on the project last year. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is furious, AD reports.
"We immediately protested seriously with the Israeli authorities and demanded return of the goods. We're currently investigating the exact damages and what next steps can be taken", Foreign Affairs spokesperson Chris Bakker said to the newspaper.
Israeli soldiers raided the village on Wednesday morning. "The Israeli soldiers also tried to drag the batteries away, but they were apparently too heavy. They were damaged, however", said Tamar Cohen, organizational development manager at Comet-me, the organization with whom the Netherlands donated the solar panels. Israel regularly evacuates Palestinian settlements because of the lack of property acts or building permits. "But that always goes through the court first and then we can litigate. This is the first time soldiers seized goods unannounced", Cohen said to the newspaper.
COGAT, the Israeli government on the west bank of the Jordan and the Gaza strip, said that the Dutch solar panels were illegal, in a statement given to AD. "The necessary permits were lacking. A ban on building solar panels in the village has now been imposed. We emphasize that the village has other power sources."
Tthe Netherlands donates tens of millions of euros to projects for Palestinians on the west bank of the Jordan and in the Gaza strip every year. Aid agencies often don't request building permits from the Israeli military government, because of long waiting times and very low chance of success. In practice this basically means that the projects are dependent on Israeli goodwill.
This is not the first time Israel destroyed a Netherlands funded project. In 2015 Israeli troops seized Dutch funded agricultural machinery for Palestinian farmers in the village of Kusra. The Netherlands also paid the fines to get the machinery back, because the farmers themselves couldn't. And in 2000 Israeli tanks bombed a port under construction in the Gaza strip. The Netherlands contributed 23 million euros to that port.
The international community considers Israel's occupation of the Jordan's west bank to be illegal and strives for an independent Palestinian state in parts of the area. But the peace process between Israel and Palestine has been deadlocked for years.